Facebook finally concluded a meeting with the German Justice Ministry yesterday. The end-result? They said two things. First....Facebook agreed to join a German group called FSM (translated to Voluntary Self-Censorship Service Provider) which has two missions.....internet security and ending racism on the internet. The other big item is that Facebook agreed to hook up with the German government theme of 'counter-speech'.
For those who aren't familiar with counter-speech.....this is where you use a method of argument to fight racism or xenophobia or just about anything (if you think about it) through massive discussion (the kind that goes on and on and on). Counter-speech usually involves dumping facts in massive quantity (usually cherry-picked), belittling the opposite argument with every possible angle, and using facial expressions and hand movements to suggest that "you really mean what you say".
The meeting basically gave some cover for Facebook to continue saying that it's an open media system and just wants to make everyone happy. It gives some cover for the chief German prosecutor to say that they've pushed Facebook around and gotten them to change. If you think about what was said or done within their joint statement.....it was mostly nothing of value.
One might anticipate some episode occurring in the future where Facebook dumps all of their noted violators to the Justice Ministry, and they use the Sedition Act to bring them into court. Course, just bringing a dozen-odd people won't work, and when it gets into thousands.....they will do a massive campaign....likely resulting in hundreds of thousands of people quitting Facebook in Germany. Facebook realizes the potential threat, but we are headed to an odd thing....the 1984-environment of Germany.....where there's only one opinion and you are either in the circle or outside the circle.
When social media arrived....no one stood there at the gate and asked any stupid questions. It was a chat-line....where everyone could enter....chat....and just leave comments. We never had such a "toy" before. It doesn't matter where you go....people utilize the social media world to express their opinions, and sometimes....it's not pretty. The effort to moderate? Who exactly is deputized to moderate and just how harsh of a world do you want....if significant moderation is a daily thing within your little world?
My guess is that complaints will stack up by next summer, and the Facebook crowd will be invited back for another round with the German Justice Ministry. Eventually, some connection will occur where the Ministry has their own moderators attached to Facebook. If you think things are messed up now.....just wait....it'll get stranger.